Lindum Colonia

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Lindum Colonia
Newport Arch.jpg
The Newport Arch is a surviving part of the north gate to the Upper City.
Lindum Colonia is located in England
Lindum Colonia
Shown within England
Alternate name Lindum, Colonia Domitiana Lindensium
Location Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England
Region Brittania
Coordinates 53°14′02″N 00°32′17″W / 53.23389°N 0.53806°W / 53.23389; -0.53806Coordinates: 53°14′02″N 00°32′17″W / 53.23389°N 0.53806°W / 53.23389; -0.53806
Type Settlement
Builder Domitian
Founded Around 80
Abandoned End of the 5th century
Periods Roman Imperial

Lindum Colonia (otherwise simply Lindum or, more formally, Colonia Domitiana Lindensium) was a town in the Roman province of Britannia. Today it is called Lincoln, in the English county of Lincolnshire.

Fort and name[edit]

The Romans conquered this part of Britain in AD 48 and shortly afterwards built a legionary fortress, possibly south of the River Witham. This was soon replaced, around AD 60, by a second fort for the Ninth Legion, high on a hill overlooking the natural lake formed by the widening of the River Witham (the modern day Brayford Pool) and at the northern end of the Fosse Way Roman road. That pool is very likely to have given Lincoln its name.[1]

The name is of mixed Celtic and Latin origin, The Latinized form Lindum, from Brittonic *Lindon meaning 'pool, lake' (cf. Modern Welsh llyn, "lake. pool, puddle, pond"), and Latin colonia "(legionary) colony".[2] The name Lindum Colonia even survived, being shortened in Old English to become 'Lincoln'.

Town development[edit]

Roman north wall of Lindum Colonia

Around AD 80, the fort was converted to a colonia after the legion moved on to Eboracum (York) in the year 71. This was an important settlement for retired legionaries, established by the Emperor Domitian within the walls and using the street grid of the hilltop fortress, with the addition of an extension of about equal area, down the hillside to the waterside below.

The town became a major flourishing settlement, accessible from the sea both through the River Trent and through the River Witham. Public buildings, such as the forum (with lifesize equestrian statues) and basilica and the public baths, were erected in the 2nd century. The hilltop was largely filled with private homes, but the slopes became the town's commercial centre. They gained stone walls, like the upper region (including the Newport Arch), around AD 200. There was also an industrial suburb over the river which had pottery production facilities. The town had the best developed sewerage system in the province and a fine octagonal public fountain and part of its aqueduct have been partly uncovered. There were temples dedicated to Apollo and Mercury. Lindum became the provincial capital of Flavia Caesariensis when the province of Britannia Inferior was subdivided in the early 4th century and it sent a bishop to the Council of Arles in AD 314. The original St Paul-in-the-Bail Church, Lincoln may have been late Roman.[3]


The city and its waterways eventually fell into decline, and, by the end of the 5th century it was virtually deserted. However, the church of St Paul continued as a place of worship until 450 and its churchyard was in use into the 6th century. When Saint Paulinus visited in 629, it was apparently under the control of a Praefectus Civitatis called Blecca.[4]


  • Lincoln City and County Museum (c. 1995). A Walk about Roman Lincoln. Lincoln: Lincoln City Council. 


  1. ^
  2. ^ Delamarre, Xavier, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, Errance, 2003 (2nd ed.), p. 203.
  3. ^ An overview of the archaeology of Lincoln, on which its history is reconstructed is in A. Vince, ed., Pre-Viking Lindsey, 1993.
  4. ^ Bede, History of the English Church and People, book 2, chapter 16. Latin: "16. Praedicabat autem Paulinus uerbum etiam prouinciae Lindissi, quae est prima ad meridianam Humbre fluminis ripam, pertingens usque ad mare, praefectumque Lindocolinae ciuitatis, cui nomen erat Blaecca, primum cum domu sua conuertit ad Dominum." English: "16. Paulinus also preached the Word to the province of Lindsey, which is the first on the south side of the river Humber, stretching as far as the sea; and he first converted to the Lord the reeve of the city of Lincoln, whose name was Blaecca, with his whole house."

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